U.S. Marshals and N.C. authorities believe this man is William Dathan Holbert, who Wilmington police say sold a home that wasn't his in 2005, collecting $200,000. He is being held in connection with a murder charge in Nicaragua.
By Andrew Dunn
Star News | July 29, 2010
The North Carolina man on the run after being charged with fraudulently selling an Oak Island home could be connected to as many as 20 murders in Central America.
He's not likely to be back in the U.S. anytime soon. New Hanover County Assistant District Attorney Jon David said his office will wait until authorities in Panama finish their murder investigations to take further steps.
A man going by the name of William Cortez Reese was arrested along with his girlfriend, Jane Cortez, by the Nicaraguan Army earlier this week and charged with killing an American in Panama, according to a news release from the country's National Police.
U.S. Marshals and N.C. authorities believe he is William Dathan Holbert, 30, a man with ties to white supremacist organizations who Wilmington police say sold a home that wasn't his in 2005, collecting $200,000.
U.S. Marshal Brian Konig said Thursday there has been no confirmation yet that Holbert and Reese are the same man.
There is still an open warrant for Holbert's arrest that calls for extradition, said Cpl. Paul Verzaal, an investigator with the Wilmington Police Department.
He is not suspected of committing any other crimes in Wilmington area, Oak Island police Sgt. Tony Burke said.
Holbert was born Sept. 12, 1979, in Hendersonville, according to the Hendersonville Times-News. He graduated from North Henderson High School in 1997.
In 2005, he opened a business in Forest City called Southern National Patriots that promoted white supremacist views. He sold Nazi flags and tried to recruit young people, Verzaal said.
That fall, investigators say he forged a deed and title to an Oak Island home owned by a woman in Denver, N.C., and sold it to an investor. The fraud was reported when the owner came to her home and found it gutted, said Oak Island police detective Kristy Cox, who responded to the original call.
Holbert then used the $200,000 to buy a home in Kentucky and vacation in Ireland, investigators said.
The Wilmington Police Department took out warrants for his arrest in January 2006 on felony charges of obtaining property by false pretenses and forgery of deeds. The department called in the U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force, which has offices around the country, to help find Holbert.
Two weeks after the warrants were taken out, a highway patrolman stopped Holbert in Wyoming and was notified of the pending charges, Burke said. When the patrolman tried to arrest him, Holbert escaped after a high-speed chase.
"He must have realized at that time, ‘Boy, they're serious about what happened in southeastern North Carolina. I better get out of Dodge.'" David said. "Literally."
He is then suspected to have stolen a U-Haul in North Dakota, which was found the next month in Florida. Later that year, he appeared on America's Most Wanted.
Holbert then fell off the radar until the reports of his arrest in Nicaragua.
Cortez is charged with killing Cheryl Lynn Hughes, an American who went missing from Panama in March.
Cortez is also known as "Wild Bill," according to the Nicaraguan police news release.
He was arrested with a large amount of cash, a 22-caliber pistol and bullets from a 38-caliber pistol, according to La Voz del Sandinismo, a local newspaper.
Police say two bodies were found in a home Cortez owned in Panama, one of whom was Hughes, the news release states.
Reports from local authorities vary, but one put the number of deaths Cortez could be connected to at 20, David said.